Here are just a few notes from our class on what makes a good research paper:
1: A good research paper seems to move from an original question to a unique explanation rather than from a problem to a solution (feel free to disagree with this characterization, just be ready to back up your disagreement.)
ex. “What are some of the unique social factors in America that have contributed to pot remaining illegal?” is a much stronger starting point than “Pot should be legal/illegal because of X, Y and Z.)
2: A good research paper (for this class) should also be rhetorically interesting. That is, the paper should integrate experiences and observations with hard factual “research” to create a unique whole; a paper that could have been written by no one other than its author.
3: (we will go over this point on Wednesday) A good research paper must integrate a variety of sources, but all of these sources must be believable/credible. A question to think about: “What makes a source believable?”